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Staff editorial: The donkey in the room: Democratic party flounders to restore base

Following their widespread loss in last year’s election, it has become clear that the Democratic party has some soul-searching to do. With a Republican controlled presidential administration, in addition to loss of power in the house and senate, it would seem that the odds are stacked heavily against them. However, in the wake of Trump’s presidency and the national outrage that has followed, liberal, progressive voters are making their voices heard. Protests such as last month’s record-breaking Women’s March have made it clear that, despite the outcome of the last election, the country is far from lacking in support for the no-longer dominant Democrats. By appealing to this backlash against the Trump administration and strengthening the bond with progressive voters, the party has the potential to rebuild its base and, as it tried futilely to do during the last campaign, finally develop an appeal to millennial voters.

There have been some rays of hope, such as Democratic senators’ unified voice and battle against the appointment of now Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as well as efforts, made prominent by Elizabeth Warren, to warn the public about the racist views of now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Although both highly questionable candidates were ultimately appointed, and vicious, GOP backlash has ensued, this is the attitude and approach we need from our Democratic lawmakers right now. But sadly, the party has been far from unified or resistant to many of Trump’s other cabinet picks. Defense Secretary James Mattis, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly were voted in easily, with little in the way of hesitation or protest from Democratic senators. These picks, rather than having ambiguous, bipartisan platforms, are instead strictly conservative and directly against the interests of the party’s constituents.

The reason for this divide is best summarized in the explanation of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):

“…I have to say we’re capitalists and that’s just the way it is,” Pelosi told a young voter at a CNN town hall event on Jan. 31.

Although Pelosi went on to critique the problems with capitalism that are evident in modern-day America, her firm commitment to it as a system is reflective of her party as a whole, which is at the root of issues connecting with young and progressive voters. While the rise of the alt-right and the election of Trump have given a platform to populist conservatives dissatisfied with the status quo, little has been done on the left to reach out to those on the left eager for change. Dissatisfied liberals have come out in full force in the wake of Trump’s election. We’re not hard to find, and we’re in desperate need of a party and leaders we can trust. As the Democrats flounder for a new direction and ways to make up for past downfalls, it has become clear where their loyalties lie: Despite an outcry of support for something, anything besides Trump and the modern-day Republican party, softening their commitment to capitalism and working in the interests of their constituents are far from the minds of Democratic leadership. 

It has become clear that Democrats have little hope of success in their current predicament. Despite some valuable voices of dissent, such as Warren’s, the best the party can offer us in its current state is a cautionary tale for what progressives hopeful for change shouldn’t do.